“But You are a God of forgiveness,” the Levites prayed on behalf of the repentant people of God (Nehemiah 9:17). What a marvelous declaration! The spiritual leaders continued to describe their covenant-keeping God: “Gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” This is our God!
In the first part of this series on the fatherhood of God we thought about His great love toward us in Christ; the love that saved us and adopted us into His family. Today, let’s think about the forgiving nature of the heavenly Father.
The Description of God’s Forgiveness
When those who belong to God rebel against Him and His laws, He pursues them and brings them to repentance. Why? His desire is to forgive and restore them. The psalmist testifies of God’s restoring work on behalf of His people: “Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath” (Ps 78:38). The reason God can restore His rebellious children is because He atones for their sin in order to release them—forgive them—from their debt. He does this because “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Ps 103:8). When a person is truly redeemed by the forgiving grace of God he cannot help but declare “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love” (Micah 7:18).